Hard work places Mt. Pleasant track team on path to victory
A group of experienced seniors will lead Mt. Pleasant's boys and girls track teams, according to third-year coach Shawn Thompson.
"We have so many kids involved," Thompson said. "We have a lot of contributors, but there are some seniors that have really been faithful to the program."
For the boys, those seniors are Eric Porter, Ryan Bartok and Mitchell Neiderhiser. All three are expected to compete in distance events.
"They've all worked hard," Thompson said. "They all ran in the cross country program, and these are active kids. They have made themselves good through hard work."
Along with being talented runners, the senior trio has and continues to provide leadership to underclassmen.
"They've taken that role already and stepped up to the front; the other kids feed off that," Thompson said. "I like my chances in the distance events with those three leading the way."
Mt. Pleasant has dropped down a classification and will compete in Section 4-AA, along with Clairton, East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Neighborhood Academy, Serra Catholic, South Allegheny, Southmoreland and Trinity Christian.
The Vikings finished 10-1 in section action last season, with their only loss a one-point setback to Southmoreland. Because of their proximity, the teams usually have a strong rivalry in all sports.
Thompson graduated from Southmoreland in the mid-1990s and was a pole vaulter and sprinter on the track and field team.
"Southmoreland has been our nemesis the past two years," Thompson said. "It's usually us versus them for the section title. We both went into our meet last year undefeated and they beat us by one point. We expect the same type of thing this year. These school are five miles apart. Everybody knows each other."
Seniors Kelsey Kronk, Nicole Malara and Elizabeth Susko will form the nucleus of the girls team, which finished 10-1 in section meets a year ago.
Kronk is a thrower and shot putter.
"She's just a super kid," Thompson said. "She gets it done, and the kids really look up to her. She does all the right things when it comes to workouts."
Susko will compete primarily in the long and triple jumps; Malara is a hurdler and triple jumper.
"Nicole was part of the basketball team, and they had a really nice season," Thompson said. "We'd like to see her continue that through the track season.
"We have a bunch of nice hurdlers this year, and I like our jumping events — especially the long and triple jumps. We have a couple of nice sprinters, as well. It seems like we have kids all over the place."
Because of the drop in classification, both the boys and girls should be Section 4-AA favorites.
"Obviously, you try to put yourself into a situation to win a section title," Thompson said. "You want to go out and compete, and see what happens. Hopefully you'll get a good draw and maybe move onto West Mifflin (for the WPIAL finals).
"We have a hard-working group of kids, and we should be able to do pretty well within our section. I'm excited about watching these kids go out and compete."